Slow Summer

Grabby got diagnosed with Lyme’s by a naturopath who specializes in tick borne illnesses. As a result we canceled the kids two weeks sleep away camp this year, which has caused much frustration and anger. It has been a slow summer over here, with daily struggles to figure out what to do with the kids other than screens.

Grabby hates transitions in general so just to get her to get dressed in the morning and wash and brush her teeth and hair is a production on its own. Add to that her not feeling super good and having a daily slight fever, I just give up on even trying. I mean its already challenging for me to figure what to do with them. Add to that the resistance to go out. I just give in. So summer this year is mostly spent indoors in front of screens. Yay, parent of the year.

Adding to that, our neighbors on both sides are getting house work and yard work done. So staying at home is not even that serene, with our windows and floors shaking constantly from the power machines and bob cats. To add to my lovely summer, its been raining almost daily, as a matter of fact its currently pouring right now as I type this. On the plus side I only watered my vegetable garden about twice this summer, silver linings, right?

This blog has turned into just a venting space. I apologize.

Here’s a picture of a pink haired Mei contemplating feeding a goat a carrot to make this post slightly better.

Peace

IMG_6526

 

Advertisements

I Hate Ticks

…and probably so does everyone else in the world. This year is, according the many articles and scientists who follow tick population across the US, is supposed to be THE WORST in recorded history, or something like that.

My youngest  has pheromones  that ticks like. So she comes home from the back yard  (yes you’ve read that correct, not the deep woods but the backyard!) with a tick sometimes two on her body.

She had one attach a couple of months back and showed some sympotms of a very low grade fever and headaches after. For the past two months, I’ve been trying to figure out what she has and why her low grade fever won’t go away. She did get the customary 21 days antibiotics course, and the symptoms continue.

She just got seen by a naturopath that specializes in Lyme disease and other tick related sicknesses, so I’m giving it a go for another month to check if the prescriptions do actually work this time. Make dua friends, or empty void that I’m venting this to.

In other news, its my birthday and I got a new MacBook light, which is why I can access this blog again (my other computer is dead) and add more to the already existing and expanding noise that is the internet. Yay me *insert lousy face emoji*

IMG_6736

Peace.

Two Years

It’s been two whole years since I last stopped here, imagine that! where does the time go? I am sharing some phone photos (aren’t phone cameras the most convenient thing ever? they’re not pretty like DSLRs but they’re inconspicuous, which is exactly what I’m into) because they help me figure out what happened and when. Also I am out of blogging practice. So this post is a warm up. egyptian food

sultan hassan

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

mask

climbing

lake and girls

1. I visited Egypt last May for a couple of weeks and got to eat favorite egyptian dishes 2. and visited my favorite mosque, Sultan Hassan. 3. We went to Minneapolis for a couple of days sans kids over summer break and boy is it a book town. We also discovered an amazing East African restaurant. 4. The Halloween aisle at target is up and we had way too much fun with it last weekend. 5. Grabby climbing a rock with the help of a vine on one of our walks in a near by woods. 5. The girls looking at some fish in the lake.

sleeping with dog

6. Ooh, and we got a dog. Her name is Naga and she’s currently barking at the mailman.

Peace.

Costa Rica

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

I’ve been lazy and uninspired to write anything. My family are curious about a trip we took last spring break, so the few of you that are sticking around with my nonexistent blog appearance get to read about it too.

beach

It was an early ten year anniversary from my darling husband. A surprise trip to Costa Rica, he plotted and planned for months with my sister in Canada: Spend spring break with my sister and her family up in Toronto, leave the kids with my sister, and surprise me with a plane ride all the way to the middle of America. Except he realized he needed to tell me ahead of time so I can pack accordingly. The temperature in Canada was shifting between forties and twenties, and in Costa Rica it’s a whooping 90 degree weather. A good call on his behalf I must say. We arrived at the very first day of the rainy season. I was told by many locals that I’m the first Egyptian they ever came across.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

We flew from the Toronto airport to San Jose in one of the most calming flights I remember taking. It wasn’t the first class seats that my in laws generously gave us from their miles that made the flight already a vacation, although it didn’t hurt the least (thanks guys). It was the absence of caring for two kids, the avoidance of spills, and the lack of multiple back to back bathroom trips. I even read the first quarter of a book uninterrupted. Imagine that.

Processed with VSCOcam

We arrived late, checked in a hotel then flew the next morning in a plane that fits only five people including the pilot. Take off was ridiculous, but the view after elevation made up for it.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Puerto Jimenez is a hikers’, surfers’, tree-huggers’ heaven. It’s covered in jungle, and buzzing with life. You might even come to find God there if you have doubts. Landing was expertly done on the lone short runway that will only accommodate planes our size and smaller. Existing the plane you are greeted with humidity and heat that threatens you to abandon reason, and strip naked on the spot. You are also greeted with the town’s flower covered cemetery. Vacationing or not, this is a reminder lest you forget, your time here is fleeting, five days, one hundred more years, We shall all leave this place, so you’d better make it count.

bedroom view bedroom bathroom Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

And we did, we spent our five days, boogie boarding, zip lining, jungle hiking, tree climbing, and mangrove canoeing (a first time canoe-er here, with a massive crocodile phobia, that almost sent me to the cavity of one, hasn’t it been for the good judgement of our guide who refrained from explaining what those bubble next to my canoe were from). We visited a permaculture chocolate farm, and dipped our just picked fruits in the freshest chocolate syrup one could acquire. We would’ve gladly only survived on mangoes, had it not been for the spectacular communal dinners our eco lodge provided. We also did not sleep very well, given the humidity, jungle noises, crashing waves sounds, and the torrential rain that attacked without warning and lasted half an hour at a time.

communal dinnerJPG cocobean farm chocolate farm spread hike to tree poison frong Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset tree top

They were full memorable five days, I said goodbye to the people who rested in the ground next to our plane before take off and thanked them for the reminder. I also continued to pray for the next fifty minutes for our safe return to San Jose– the bumpiest scariest plane ride, with massive air pockets that we dove into every so often. A fellow passenger noticed and thanked me, not the pilot for our safe landing. I thanked God.

tiny plane Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset clock square san jose Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Our final day was spent walking the streets of San Jose, shopping, and learning about child support laws from an enthusiastic, foot ball fan and cab driver whose been saving to go to the Brazil world cup, and spent the hour drive back to our airport hotel explaining his plans as a divorced parent who wants to leave the country and maneuver the country’s strict child support laws in details.

Peace.

 

This.

I don’t speak with my father much on the phone. I am not good at phone calls unless you’re my mother or have a Skype or Viber account. Otherwise, I’m better at any form of typed communication, be it on social media or a texting app.

My father is not good at either. He also doesn’t like to spend too much time on the phone because his hearing is not great and if he can’t hear well he won’t have you repeat what you just said, but instead will say something that doesn’t go with the flow of the conversation, which is understandable.

My rare phone conversations with my father entail him questioning me about my kid’s fluency in Arabic, and then continues to a good fifteen minutes on a lecture of how important it is for my kids to speak Arabic– my least favorite part of the conversation. After that he proceeds to make me feel horrible because all of my other siblings call him regularly and even visit him in Egypt and I don’t. He asks about my family and I, and makes lots of praise and supplications for us, which also makes me feel horrible. I have a constant guilt feeling toward my father because he’s getting old, and I should be a better daughter to him, but I can’t. I promise myself after my scattered phone calls that I will never leave the gap to stretch this far again. The last time I made that promise was sometime last year.

My not calling him doesn’t mean that I don’t think about him. I think about my father almost every single day. He was the only one I used to call at the early hours in the morning back in my sleepless teenage years because he’s an insomniac and I knew that he was guaranteed to be up. I no longer call him because I don’t know what to tell him anymore, because whatever I say will be difficult for him to follow with his hearing loss, because my girls still don’t speak Arabic and I am still failing at incorporating a successful routine to teach them, and because all the things that I really want to talk to him about I can’t. Still. After all these years. So I will wait till the moon sighting for this year’s Ramadan, I will take a deep breath, and I will dial his number. And the cycle will begin again.

Peace.

 

I don’t know how to write poetry but this is an ode nonetheless

In fifth grade my twin sister and I moved in with our grandmother for a month so my maternal uncle who lives in the same building could help us with our final exams. Fifth grade in Egypt is a big deal because it’s a transition from elementary school to preparatory. The grades are important for reasons I no longer remember, but I’m assuming if I was going to public schools would’ve been more significant but I was in private schools, which still doesn’t add up to why I had to leave my mother’s flat at the other end of town for a month. I didn’t mind though. I had my sister and cousins who lived in the same building, since it’s a family building, to play with on break time, and my mother visited on weekends.

My Grandmother made us fresh eggs for breakfast from her rooftop hens (Egyptians sometimes keep chicken coops on the roof of their building) swimming in a pool of homemade butter that was brought to her by family from the village. For lunch we ate roz labnah (egyptian style risotto) next to a variety of protein options including organ meats, with a simple cucumber, tomato, and egyptian white cheese salad. I was never bored from eating essentially the same meal for a whole month. On our free time we followed stray dogs and watched them mate from atop street trees that we’d climb, this seemed like a good idea at the time (my cousin’s idea). We dissembled brand new car toys for their motors, and parts and made “new inventions” with them. We bought ice cream for my grandmother with our allowances because it was her favorite treat of all time, but also because when she ate ice cream she had to take her dentures out and put them in a clear glass full of water. It was the grossest and coolest thing ever.

Before bedtime my grandmother would sit with us on her simple village couches, which were made like a wooden bench with a wide horizontal seating area covered in a hard, cotton packed mattress that was tucked inside a once-upon-a-time vibrant-colored, village-style, flowery fabric, and tell us about her wedding celebration which was a three day ordeal. She was twelve, which always made us gasp in disbelief. It’s the way of the village, my grandmother would say, you are educated and live in the big city, your norms are different than ours. The she would continue…

هودج

(A picture I found online that can be close to the structure built for my Grandmother’s wedding. Her’s went right over a donkey)

Your grandfather may God have mercy on his soul was the son of the village’s mayor, it was a good bond between two good families. He gifted me (as was the tradition) with so much gold. I had a giant gold kerdan (a traditional Egyptian pyramid shaped necklace that was made out of rows of chained golden coins with the wider part at the top of the chest) that went down to my waist, it was difficult to keep an upright posture from the weight. I had bracelets that went up to my elbows on both hands, and one of my ear lobes ripped from the weight of my earrings. (at this point we would re-check her ripped earlobe). All the village came out to celebrate. They built a special howdaj–a bridal wooden box that goes on a horse’s back, that the bride sits in– and decorated it with flowers and fabric. Mine went over a  donkey. This was the most uncomfortable part in the entire wedding. I was so light, that the howdaj kept bouncing up and down like there was nothing inside it. Even with all the gold I was weighed down with, I bounced, and finally when the donkey was supposed to cross a stream it stopped suddenly, and my box and I went flying down right in the muddy stream. I was so embarrassed, but it makes for good story telling.

***

My grandmother, went to live with her in-laws after the wedding, and was separated from her husband for four years until he finished his degree in Cairo, and then went back and brought her back to the city to live. She never changed her speech to the City’s way of speech like her relatives and friends that eventually moved to the city and shed their accent, their long jilbabs and cut their hair. My grandmother, wore her now henna-colored, bright, orange, long braids and her jilbab till the day she died. She could never read or write, yet she opened the Quraan every day and looked at it. She did not understand the news reports because they were read in classical arabic, which is the educated form of arabic. On her death bed she woke up from a two day coma, spoke in classical arabic form, which made us all raise our eyebrows in disbelief and spoke about things she saw on the other side. She died that night surrounded by all her children, her children’s children, and their husbands, including a special American one that she held dearly in her heart, and told him that he was a good man, and the best husband to her grandchild in front of a slew of relatives.

I saw my grandmother twice in dreams after her passing, one of which she was in her wedding dress, with long light brown braids, smiling.

Mama Aya, you have been popping in my head for the past week, and this is my humble way of acknowledging your special fleeting existence in my life. You are missed.

Please recite al fatiha for her soul if you can.

Peace

 

Why?

I can safely say that I have never followed a special diet in my life until I came to the U.S. The only change that I had to be mindful of here is to read labels to make sure there are no animal or pig products present in stuff I put in my mouth and sometimes on my skin. If it’s not halal I can’t eat it. But that’s for a religious reason.

My Husband and I started following another special diet about a month ago. Why? I can’t speak for him, but in my case I started out of moral support and curiosity. I have a couple of friends who’ve been paleo for some time now, and I read about it in blogs and web searches and wanted to see what the big fuss was. The first three weeks I cheated constantly. Being the bread lover that I am, I used to sneak pieces of bread and still ordered my chai latte on regular basis.

Here’s what you’re not supposed to eat when paleo:

Grains

Beans

Sugar

White potatoes

Sun flower/ canola oil or any cooking oil that’s highly processed.

Processed food

Dairy and cheese although in some less strict paleo diets you can have raw whole milk and unprocessed goat cheese.

Any juice.

In moderation:

Fruits

Desserts

Dark chocolate

Maple syrup

Dates

Honey

Recommended:

Greens

Premium Quality meat and poultry (grass fed, organic, pasture raised…etc)

Sustainable fish and seafood

Sweet potatoes

Cauliflower

Squashes

Nuts

Olive oil, coconut oil, butter, ghee (all good quality)

In our case, this means we can’t eat out since our meat and chicken need to be slaughtered the islamic way and most of the other choices are not paleo friendly. I’ve been cooking a lot!

In the first three weeks (mind you I haven’t been really good about it) My stomach was really upset, I was hungry all the time, craving sweet all the time, and I literally cried because I missed bread. I had crazy headaches and was irritable. This week, my headaches and cravings are finally subsiding and I am not at loss of what to eat or cook anymore. When following paleo one is encouraged to not eat sweets, and minimal amount of fruits for the first month so they can reset their system and try and loose weight if that’s the goal. I wasn’t trying to loose or reset my system, so I didn’t care about that aspect of the program. Also it’s supposed to be a lifestyle, and one can adjust it according to their ailments.

The things I noticed so far is my skin and my husbands skin has cleared up a lot, I don’t feel bloated after eating anymore, and the hunger feeling I was feeling wasn’t actually hunger but rather I was mistaking the after meal heaviness for hunger. I feel light yet satiated. I didn’t loose weight because I have been eating dessert almost everyday to substitute my sugar and bread cravings, but my body fat shifted to better places in my body. My waist is narrower somehow, and my clothes look better on me, mind you I haven’t exercised in over three months now. Which is another thing I want to pick up again, since the paleo lifestyle highly encourages High intensity interval training style exercise.

My kids are not paleo, because one of them eats about five things and the other needs sandwiches every once in a while. It’s really tricky making sandwiches without bread!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

 

1. Paleo Granola. (Grain free, sugar free)

2. Paleo Chocolate bars (Dairy free)

3. Roasted leg of lamb, green salad, white potatoes (for kids), sweet potatoes for adults

4. Paleo Apple Pie. (Grain, dairy, sugar, flour free)

5. Chocolate Date Truffles

6. Fajitas (My DH’s signature paleo dish)

7. Cauliflower Tortillas.

My husband’s only pet peeve about the diet is it’s inaccurate name. Paleolithic people definitely didn’t eat all this.

Peace.

 

 

Eyeballs

I might have told you this story before, but it’s 3 degrees out so you get to hear my new comer winter story again.

I arrived sometime in early March to America’s midwest to settle. My husband decided to take me for a walk to get acquainted to my new city. I borrowed my father in law’s clunky yet warm Sorrels, tucked my hands inside one of his mittens, wrapped my mother’s wool scarf–that she gave me before I left to the colder part of the globe–around my face twice, and decided since my head is already covered and my body is armored with a lightweight modern NorthFace winter coat that went down to my knees (another generous arrival gift from the in-laws) that I am good to go. Five minutes into the walk I experienced a new sensation that I hadn’t thought possible before that day… My eyeballs hurt!

My eyeballs have gotten stronger since, and only hurt in single digit weather. That March day was way up in the twenties, but I was not used to the twenties by then yet.

I am a seasoned wisconsinite I’d like to think, and this winter has been rough for the toughest of skins up here. My eyeballs hurt today, and I remembered my first arrival to the frozen world. But today I decided– This is the last week in February. It is about time I bought some goggles.

Here are some snapshots from earlier this month:

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with lv02 preset chai Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetPeace.

Spain…

Sigh. What can I possibly write about Spain. About traveling to a new country, about the old world, different cultures that behave just like how their language sounds like, music, art, architecture, endless narrow steep streets that give your calf muscles a work out no paid professional instructors can help you with. Can I explain in my limited articulation the experience of foreign markets, different food that your youngest daughter will not touch, yet gives you a window into a different culture. About friends, expats, locals, and subcultures. We visited friends in southern Spain in a place called Orgiva sounds like (Or-kh-ba) and stayed there for a week. Orgiva is a small country town located in the lower part of the Sierra Nevada moutians, it’s surrounded by other smaller towns up in the mountains. Orgiva has an eclectic group of residents that give it its charm. The country is so fertile you can live off the land and be satiated. After our week with our friends we stopped in a few cities to visit the sites. We visited picaso’s birth place in Malaga (Mei was especially excited), then drove to Seville and right before we left my DH did find a barber there (get it?), we also took the train to Cordoba for a day, then ended our trip in Granada. The pictures you’re about to see are not in particular order. I chose them because they capture some of my personal experience about the place. There are a whole lot of pictures in my archives but I am lazy, tired and under the weather for too much work.

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset al abacine Processed with VSCOcam Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset trespassing

 

Peace.

Winter Activities

I’ve been gone long on this space haven’t I?

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

I assure you I have been doing the same amount of things that need to be done on daily basis, no absence from the real world has been felt. Th one exception is we managed to go to the south of spain this winter break and was just what I needed. It wasn’t particularly warm except for about four days. The temperature there has been in the forties, fifties and sixties. But all the seating areas are outdoors. Southern spaniards are in denial of winter and the existence of any other language than spanish. They ask you something in spanish you’ll respond in english dotted with the few spanish words you know, they’ll hold a ten minute conversation in spanish in response to your failed attempt. It was highly entertaining, confusing and comical at the same time.

Processed with VSCOcam Processed with VSCOcam with b5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

Since our return, we’ve had a rotation of mild sickness (the usual cold, and sniffles) and a whole lot of nosebleeds from the littlest. Let me tell you; a bedroom humidifier has made washing pillow and bedcovers a lot less. We’ve also had the polar vortex, which my man was especially excited about and brought out his heavy duty -50 winter coat for the occasion, bundled up and went for a nice 10 minute walk around the block, while I enjoyed our central heat and frozen iced windows from indoors.

We are currently in the middle of another cold snap, that;s not as impressive as a polar vortex, but my windows did freeze again from the inside today.

As I update you with my life, I am simultaneously stacking an impressive amount of crumpled tissues by the coffee table. Curse you cold season. It’s not that bad, I’m just not a winter lover like my man.

I have a ton of spain photos that you’re bound to see at some point in the near future when I stop sneezing my nose ring out of my nose. So stick around. I’m sharing minimal photos today and a poem from a Palestinian teenage poet I’ve just discovered. Do watch her she’s amazing.

http://youtu.be/CDRrEVTKbrIPeace.

Peace